11 Warning Signs of Pre-Diabetes
by Carina Wolff
A pre-diabetic woman in a white dress crouching at the beach

No one wants to get diabetes, but the disease doesn't just happen overnight. When your blood sugar is high, you're at risk for pre-diabetes, and if you don't adjust your lifestyle, you could eventually develop type-2 diabetes. There are a number of warning signs of pre-diabetes to look out for early on, and becoming aware of these symptoms can help you make the appropriate changes to help ward off diabetes and live as healthily as possible.

"Pre-diabetes is a condition that indicates a patient’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its associated health complications," says Leah de Souza-Thomas, BSc MSc MPH over email. Among international organizations, there is no consensus on the definition of pre-diabetes, but most use blood glucose levels to determine risk. "In many people, there are no signs or symptoms associated with pre-diabetes and most people feel pretty normal as they progress from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes," says de Souza-Thomas.

However, some indicators of pre-diabetes do exists, and they can often by subtle. One of these symptoms alone doesn't necessarily mean you have pre-diabetes, but if you have many of them together, you might want to go see a doctor. Here are 11 warning signs of pre-diabetes that you need to spot early.




Feeling extra tired lately? It may be a sign of pre-diabetes. "There are a number of reasons for excessive tiredness in pre-diabetics," says de Souza-Thomas. "These include the impact of dehydration and that the body’s energy requirements are not being met."


Frequent Urination


"Ordinarily when the kidneys filter the blood to make urine, they reabsorb all of the glucose and return it to the bloodstream," says de Souza-Thomas. "When a person's blood glucose levels are abnormally, high not all of the glucose can be reabsorbed, and the excess goes into the urine where its presence draws in more water from the blood. This leads to unusually high volumes of urine."


Increased Thirst


Because you urinate more frequently, this in turn would make you more thirsty, says de-Souza Thomas. If you notice you need water more than usual, this could be a symptom of pre-diabetes.


Blurred Vision


Blurry vision is another subtle symptom of pre-diabetes. "High blood sugar causes excess fluid to be moved away from the lenses in your eyes, affecting your ability to focus properly," says Brenda Braslow, MS, RD, CDE over email.




In addition to experiencing fatigue, dizziness can occur as well. Feelings of lightheadedness and dizzy spells can be early warning signs of pre-diabetes.


Numbness & Tingling


Pre-diabetes can affect you in some unusual ways. "You can even start to develop neuropathy without full-blown diabetes," says Dr. Michael Rose over email. "This would mean numbness, tingling and pain in the hands and feet."


Recurring Infections


Feeling like you're always getting sick? You might want to get checked out for pre-diabetes. "Type 2 diabetes mellitus can have a depressive effect on the immune system, resulting in recurring infections," says Dr. James Hanna over email.


Slow Wound Healing


Bruises that are slow to heal and cuts that don't seem to mend themselves could indicate pre-diabetes. "The immune system and circulation play vital roles in wound healing," says Hanna. "If pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes has negatively impacted immune function or circulation, then injuries such as cuts and bruises may be slow to heal."


Extreme Hunger


Intense hunger can indicate that your blood sugar levels are off. "When glucose is trapped in the blood, your body's cells may be trying to tell you they are starving for energy," says Braslow. "Glucose is the main energy source for the body."


High Cholesterol


This isn't something you can just spot on your own, but your cholesterol levels are something you can review with your doctor. "Insulin stimulates your liver to increase production of cholesterol," says Ron Ledoux DC, CCN over email. "Elevated cholesterol, increased triglycerides, and a triglyceride to HDL ratio greater than 3 is an indicator that your blood sugar levels are rising."


Family History


Looking at your family history can help you determine your risk for diabetes and pre-diabetes, says Faisal Tawwab, MD over email. Do any of your family members have diabetes? Knowing your history can help you make the right lifestyle changes to keep you from heading down the same road.